The last couple of weeks on social media the #MeToo campaign has filled my News Feed. For those of you unfamiliar with the #MeToo campaign women were asked to post #MeToo on various social media platforms (with a focus on facebook) if they had ever experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. Some people were also including the age they first experienced either, or the age or incidence that was most traumatic/significant in their lives. The idea behind the campaign is to demonstrate that sexual harassment is not rare and happens to many/most women (along with some men).
I did not participate in the campaign because I felt my experiences of sexual harassment pale in comparison to what many of my friends who were posting have experienced. I also initially was thinking I had not really experienced sexual harassment prior to moving to Guyana because it is much more common place here and often more aggressive. The culture accepts it overall so most of the locals don’t blink over things that I would have never imagined someone saying or doing in public. The #metoo campaign has caused me to reflect over my experiences and I realized I have encountered it before in the US it’s just often more subtle and definitely more few and far between.
One of my friends shared discomfort with words, even used in a joking matter, like “slut” because she feels it propagates a culture that encourages/allows more offensive sexual harassment. It’s not something I have personally ever been offended by, other than when it’s used as a personal attack or to bully. But it is causing me to reevaluate what influences culture to be accepting of things that has the potential to victimize women. While I still don’t think it is something I will personally be offended by, it definitely has caused me to rethink being more sensitive to what might perpetuate sexual harassment culture.
There has been some criticism of the campaign, most notably that victims don’t owe you their story. Another concern people brought up is that we focus on women being victimized without ever examining who’s doing the victimization. While I think both are interesting points, and are valid to an extent, I do not think either negate the impact that the #metoo campaign could potentially make.
I used the campaign as a point in my nursing class, a form of health promotion. My males all low balled a number of 2-4 when guessing how many women had been sexually harrassed in class, it caused a good open discussion as all but one of the females confirmed they’d been sexually harassed. My statement being that it happens almost every time I leave the house here.